As soon as we got ourselves settled into our new place in Panajachel, we hit the streets to see what artisan products were being sold here. We started on the most obvious street in town, Santander streets, which is the main tourist street just a block away from us. We knew this wasn’t our spot to find the source of where products were made, but it was a good place to start getting an idea of what was made around the lake.
We walked down the street and were immediately approached by several Mayan women with baskets on their heads filled with colorful handwoven fabrics. They were all very persistent on us buying something from them, but after looking at their fabrics and kindly saying know a few times they moved onto the next tourist.
We were surrounded by hundreds of vendors selling lots of different items from belts, shoes, scarves and bags to bracelets, beaded headbands, blankets, boots and more.
The possibilities seemed endless and a bit overwhelming as we had never see so many artisan products at once.
Even Masaya, Nicaragua’s handicraft capital, seemed limited and small compared to this. We suppressed our excitement and perused the street markets slowly all afternoon long.
The culture and art was different here. There was so much jade, I couldn’t help but stop at every shop. It was all so colorful–each vendor looked like it could be a perfect subject for a painting.
The vendors were all very nice, but were very good at negotiating at high prices with tourists. We knew we had our work cut out for us and had a lot to learn here, but we were beyond excited to get started.
We were looking forward to finding the people who actually made all of these products and then sharing their art work with the rest of the world. This was the place we had been looking for. The hunt was on.